Deliver us from Evil…

How to prepare each day for the battle ahead…

Satan and his minions are ever present to try to discourage us and keep us from following God’s path.

With that in mind, we must begin each day by putting our heads on right, and thereby prepare for each day’s challenges.

In order for us to do this God tells us to put on our spiritual armor daily.

Lord deliver us from Evil…

In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus is instructing His disciples how to pray, and in verse 13 he says,


Each of God’s people is a target of Satan’s opposition and attack.

On our own, we cannot overcome or even resist his evil purposes.

For this reason, we must rely completely on God, praying constantly for wisdom and strength to defeat the devil’s schemes.

In the prayer that Jesus prayed to the Father in John 17, we learn that the world is a tremendous battleground where the forces under Satan’s power and those under God’s authority are at war.

Satan and his forces are motivated by bitter hatred for Jesus Christ and His forces.

Jesus prayed for His disciples, including those of us who follow Him today.

He prayed that God would keep His chosen believers safe from Satan’s power, setting them apart and making them pure and holy, uniting them through His truth. This all happens when we are born-again.

How do we get eternal life?

Jesus tells us clearly here—by knowing God the Father Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Eternal life requires entering into a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

When we admit our sin and turn away from it, Jesus’ love lives in us by the Holy Spirit.

Before Jesus came to earth, He was one with God.

At this point, when His mission on earth was almost finished, Jesus was asking His Father to restore Him to His original place of honor and authority.

Jesus’ resurrection and ascension—and Stephen’s dying exclamation (Acts 7:56)—attest that Jesus did return to His exalted position at the right hand of God.

Listen to what Jesus says in John 17:10-12..

10 And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I AM GLORIFIED IN THEM.

11 Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.

12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name.

Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

What did Jesus mean when he said “I am glorified in them?”

We glorify God when we reveal His presence and character in the way we live.

The lives of Jesus’ disciples reveal Jesus’ character and by our operating and walking in His character (in His name) we show the world that He is present in us.

And in verses 15-19 Jesus says:

15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.

16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

17 Sanctify them by Your truth.

Your word is truth.

18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.

19 And for their sakes I SANCTIFY Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

To “Sanctify” means to make holy (i.e., morally and spiritually pure, whole, separated from evil and dedicated to God) and to separate or set apart (for God’s purposes).

The evening before His death, Jesus prays that His disciples will be a holy people.

He prays for them to be separated from evil in the world for the purpose of worshiping and serving God and fulfilling His purposes on earth.

They must be set apart in order to be in a close relationship with a holy God, to live for Him and to be like Him.

The Holy Spirit accomplishes this process of sanctification as Jesus’ followers devote themselves to living by the truth revealed to them by the Spirit (cf. 14:17; 16:13).

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

Thursday, June 30

God At Eventide
by Two Listeners


Evil was conquered by Me, and to all who rely on Me there is immunity from it.

Turn evil aside with the darts I provide.

1. Rejoicing in tribulation is one dart.

2. Practicing My Presence is another.

3. Self-emptying is another.

4. Claiming My Power over temptation is another

You will find many of these darts as you tread My Way and you will learn to use them adroitly, swiftly.

Each is adapted to the need of the moment.

Now unto Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
— Jude 1:24-25

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The Righteous and the Wicked Contrasted…

The Way of the Righteous and the End of the Ungodly…

Psalm 1:1-6

Life offers two roads to travel—the way of the righteous or the way of the wicked.

God provides for, protects, and nourishes the righteous.

The Way of the Godly (1:1-3)…

The godly are abundantly blessed because they do not live according to the sinful philosophies, practices, or associations of fallen men but are deeply rooted in God’s Word.

1:1a. This psalm begins with the emphatic declaration that God’s abundant favor will rest upon the person who lives a truly God-centered life.

In the original language, blessed is repeated. This is the Hebrew method of indicating the plural, intensifying its meaning.

Thus, the phrase should read, “O, how very happy” or “the happinesses!”

In reality, this soul satisfaction is pleasure found in the Lord himself.

This promise of blessing is precisely what Jesus announced in the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12).

True happiness is the experience of all who trust in the Lord (cp. Pss. 16:11; 21:6; 34:8).

The righteous are genuinely satisfied in the Lord (Phil. 4:4). 1:1b,c,d.

This God-blessed life is first described negatively, or what the godly person does not practice.

First, He does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, meaning he refuses the secular philosophy and humanistic values of the godless.

He refuses the worldview that places man at the center of the universe and entices him to live by his own standards of morality and pursuits of pleasure.

Second, neither does the righteous person stand in the way of sinners.

This infers that his personal behavior resists the lure of the crowd to participate in their carnal activities and sensual living.

Third, the godly person does not sit in the seat of mockers, meaning he refuses to associate with those who scoff at God.

He avoids close relationships with blasphemers, infidels, and atheists, no matter how prosperous they may be, because “bad company corrupts good character” (1 Cor. 15:33).

1:2. Positively, the delight of the godly is in the law of the LORD.

The person who knows genuine joy reads and relishes God’s Word.

This hunger for the Bible is a clear indication of the new birth as his new nature longs for the truths of God.

This new appetite for God’s truth leads him to meditate upon the Word day and night.

He constantly sets his mind on the truths of the Bible, throughout the day focusing on Scripture because it reveals the glory of God and His supremacy.

(vv. 2-3) These two verses hold simple wisdom: The more we delight in God’s presence, the more fruitful we will be.

On the other hand, the more we allow those who ridicule God and faith to affect our thoughts and attitudes, the more we will be cut off from our source of nourishment.

We must engage and welcome unbelievers if we are to witness to them, but we must not adopt their sinful behavior and scornful sarcasm.

If you want despair, spend time with cynics and critics; if you want God’s joy, spend time with those who love God, His Word, and His people.

We can learn how to follow God by meditating on His Word.

This has become difficult in an age of soundbites and banner headlines.

Meditating means spending time reading, thinking, marking, and reviewing what we have read.

It means asking how we must change and grow so we will live as God wants.

Meditating on and understanding God’s Word are the first steps toward applying it to your everyday life.

If you want to follow God more closely, you must take time to know what He says.

This “law of the LORD” refers to ALL of Scripture.

In it God reveals to us His will, His absolute truths, His love for us, and His divine nature.

The more we know of the whole scope of God’s Word, the more resources we will have to guide us in our daily decisions.

The phrase They prosper in all they do does not mean that God’s people have immunity from failure or difficulties.

Nor does it guarantee health, wealth, or happiness.

What the Bible means by prosperity is this: When we apply God’s wisdom, the fruit (results or by-products) we bear will be good and will receive God’s approval.

Just as a tree soaks up water and bears luscious fruit, we are to soak up God’s Word and produce actions and attitudes that honor Him.

To achieve anything worthwhile, we must have God’s Word in our hearts.

(V. 4) Chaff is the outer shell (or husk) that must be removed to get to valuable kernels of grain.

In the ancient world, chaff was removed by processes called threshing and winnowing.

After plants were cut, they were crushed by a threshing sledge, and then the pieces were thrown into the air.

Chaff is very light and would be carried away by even the slightest wind, while the good grain would fall back to the earth.

Chaff is a symbol of a faithless life that drifts along worthlessly without direction.

Good grain is a symbol of a faithful life that God can use.

Choose His direction, and your life will be fruitful.

(V. 6) What joy to know that God is watching the paths we walk each day.

We may feel like He keeps His eye on us in order to criticize us for what we do wrong along the way, but this is not true.

God sees us with loving eyes, protecting us, caring for us, and keeping us from stumbling on the journey (121:3-5).

Look for signs of His care for you today, and bask in the thought that He is guiding and helping you on your daily journey.

And so let us follow the faithful road.

God’s rewards supersede the benefits of the wicked; and He alone can give you Shalom-peace so that you can lay down and sleep and awake refreshed and sustained.

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

Wednesday, June 29
The Spirit Filled Believer
Written by Dick Mills

Part Three

“He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water”
— Psalm 1:3

The word planted in this verse is the Hebrew word shatal (shaw-thal’). In his concordance, Dr. James Strong uses a succinct and terse expression to define this root word: “to transplant.” Thus this verse is a description of our new status as Christians.

As subjects of the kingdom of God, you and I are “transplanted” trees.

Looking back over the past three days’ lessons, we read:

1) “Now is the ax laid to the root of the trees.” This verse had to do with severing genetic weaknesses from our lives.

2) “If the tree is cut down, there is hope that it will sprout again.” We are promised a reviving and a renewal after our family tree is pruned.

3) “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water.” After our pruning, we the righteous will be like transplanted trees drawing directly from the rivers of divine life.

In these verses, the Lord is telling us that as new creatures in Christ, our renewed family tree will be better than ever. It will have plenty of moisture. It will be fruitful, and its foliage will not wither away.

All of us can go through this threefold process. Let’s allow the Lord to:

1) cut away anything in us that is detrimental to our Christian witness,

2) renew and revive our lives, and

3) manifest the fruit of the life of Christ in us as we draw from the water of life.

Our new transplanted life will result in abundant health, happiness, and harvest.

Source: The Spirit-Filled Believer’s Daily Devotional by Dick Mills

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Hang on…

Help is on the way…

Hebrews 10

In OT times the people were kept at a distance; now in Christ we are brought near through the blood of His cross.

Therefore we are encouraged to draw near. This exhortation assumes that all believers are now priests because we are told to have boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus.

The common people during the Jewish economy were barred from the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place; only the priests could enter the first room, and only the high priest could enter the second.

Now that is all changed. God has no special place where only a special caste of men may approach Him.

Instead, all believers may come into His presence by faith at any time and from any place on earth.

Our approach is by a new and living way.

New here may have the meaning of “newly slain” or “newly made.”

Living seems to be a reference to Jesus in resurrection, therefore, to a living Savior.

This way was opened through the veil, that is, His flesh. This clearly teaches that the veil between the two compartments of the tabernacle was a type of the body of our Lord.

In order for us to have access into God’s presence, the veil had to be rent, that is, His body had to be broken in death.

This reminds us that we cannot draw near by Christ’s sinless life, but only by His vicarious death.

Only through the mortal wounds of the Lamb can we go in.

Every time we enter God’s presence in prayer or worship, let us remember that the privilege was bought for us at tremendous cost.

We not only have great confidence when we enter the presence of God; we also have a great High Priest over the house of God.

Even though we are priests (1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6), yet we still need a Priest ourselves.

Christ is our great High Priest, and His present ministry for us assures our continued welcome before God.

Let us draw near.

This is the believer’s blood-bought privilege. How wonderful beyond all words that we are invited to have audience, not with this world’s celebrities, but with the Sovereign of the universe!

The extent to which we value the invitation is shown by the manner in which we respond to it.

There is a fourfold description of how we should be spiritually groomed in entering the throne room.

1. With a true heart. The people of Israel drew near to God with their mouth, and honored Him with their lips, but their heart was often far from Him (Matt. 15:8).

Our approach should be with utter sincerity.

2. In full assurance of faith. We draw near with utter confidence in the promises of God and with the firm conviction that we shall have a gracious reception into His presence.

3. Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.

This can be brought about only by the new birth.

When we trust Christ, we appropriate the value of His blood.

Figuratively speaking, we sprinkle our hearts with it, just as the Israelites sprinkled their doors with the blood of the Passover lamb.

This delivers us from an evil conscience.

Our testimony is:

Conscience now no more condemns us, For His own most precious blood

Once for all has washed and cleansed us,

Cleansed us in the eyes of God.

—Frances Bevan

4, And our bodies washed with pure water. Again this is symbolic language.

Our bodies represent our lives. The pure water might refer either to the word (Eph 5:25, 26), to the Holy Spirit (John 7:37–39), or to the Holy Spirit using the word in cleansing our lives from daily defilement.

We are cleansed once for all from the guilt of sin by the death of Christ, but cleansed repeatedly from the defilement of sin by the Spirit through the word (see John 13:10).

Thus we might summarize the four requisites for entering God’s presence as sincerity, assurance, salvation, and sanctification.

I’m verse 23 we find the second exhortation is for us to hold fast the confession of our hope.

Nothing must be allowed to turn us from the staunch confession that our only hope is in Christ.

For those who were tempted to give up the future, unseen blessings of Christianity for the present, visible things of Judaism, there is the reminder that He who promised is faithful.

His promises can never fail; no one who trusts in Him will ever be disappointed.

The Savior will come, as He has promised, and His people will be with Him and like Him forever.

Let us remember that we have significant privileges associated with our new life in Christ:

(1) We have personal access to God through Christ and can draw near to him without an elaborate system (10:22);

(2) We can grow in faith, overcome doubts and questions, and have deepening relationships with God (10:23);

(3) We can inspire and cheer one another on as believers (10:24); and

(4) We can worship together (10:25).

To neglect Christian fellowship would mean giving up the encouragement, motivation, and help of other Christians that we need.

We gather together to learn from each other, refresh our faith, and strengthen one another in the Lord.

As we get closer to the day of Christ’s return, we will face many spiritual struggles, and perhaps times of severe persecution as evil forces grow in strength.

Difficulties, disillusionment, or busyness should never be excuses for missing church services.

Rather, they should motivate us to make an even greater effort to be faithful in meeting with other believers and participating in mutual encouragement.

From Max Lucado’s LifeLessons:

Once the author told that Jesus’ death surpassed any earthly sacrifice, he encouraged the Hebrew Christians to have confidence.

Jesus’ death not only provides salvation, but also great confidence for Christians.

We can step boldly before the Lord in prayer, and boldly into the world in service and witness.

Jesus has already won the battle!

Picture it this way. Imagine that you are an ice skater in competition.

You are in first place with one more round to go.

If you perform well, the trophy is yours.

You are nervous, anxious, and frightened.

Then, only minutes before your performance, your trainer rushes to you with the thrilling news:

“You’ve already won!

The judges tabulated the scores, and the person in second place can’t catch you. You are too far ahead.”

Upon hearing that news, how will you feel?


And how will you skate? Timidly? Cautiously?

Of course not. How about courageously and confidently?

You bet you will. You will do your best because the prize is yours.

You will skate like a champion because that is what you are!

You will hear the applause of victory. . . .

The point is clear: the truth will triumph.

The father of truth will win, and the followers of truth will be saved.

(From The Applause of Heaven by Max Lucado)

If you are a child of God, claim your victory over sin!

Be confident. Nothing can ever take you out of God’s hand. No one can ever take away your salvation. No matter what happens, you are always His.

And Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 about Striving for a Crown…

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize?

Run in such a way that you may obtain it.

And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things.

Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.

Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty.

Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air, but I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

Tuesday, June 28
The Cutting Edge

by Larry Ollison

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”
— Hebrews 10:23

God’s Word tells us to hold tightly and not release the confession of our hope.

We must believe that God is willing and able to meet our every need. We must never doubt His promises and we must never doubt that His promises are for us.

A lady in my church approached me with a problem. She wanted prayer. She wanted deliverance from the problem that had entangled her for years.

After explaining the problem to me in great detail, she looked at me and said,

“Do you think there is any possibility that God can solve this problem?”

At that point I showed her a promise in God’s Word that pertained to her situation.

When she saw God’s promise in His Word, I could see her countenance change.

All of a sudden, she had hope that help was on its way.

When the world approaches us with a problem, we must give them hope.

We must instill in them God’s answer to their problem. And God’s answer is found in His Word.

When we speak His Word and give them hope, then they will feel like help is on its way.

They may not be in faith, but they have hope and if they continue in their belief and confession of hope without wavering, then their confession of hope will become rhema in their heart and faith will be born.

Romans 5:5 tells us that hope does not disappoint.

This is a principle in God’s Word that we must remember as we witness to the world.

Hope brings peace and is an anticipation of the deliverance that is on its way.

Hope will encourage and give joy and strength to the oppressed.

When someone’s back is against the wall and it looks like there is no way out, hope delivered by a man or woman of God will bring freshness and peace to the heart of the oppressed.

We must always remember that hope is a godly quality and is a result of His promise spoken to the hopeless.

— Larry Ollison Ministries

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Jesus came to do for us what we could not do for ourselves…

Give me Jesus…

Salvation comes to us as a gift, free of charge; but it did not come cheap.

It cost God everything!

In order to Avail yourself of this gift you have to receive it, and that happens as you obey the gospel message and receive Jesus as both your Lord and Savior.

As Covenant children of God, followers of Christ, we follow Jesus’ example and this is what the God kind of love looks like, as we become the distributors of God’s LOVE and LIGHT into all the dark corners of this world.

When James Calvert went out to the cannibal island of Fiji with the message of the gospel, the captain of the ship in which he traveled tried to talk him out of going.

“You will risk your life and all those with you if you go among such savages,” he said.

Calvert’s magnificent reply was, “We died before we came here.”

In that sense it is possible to be dead even though you are alive.

Corrie Ten Boom’s life offers a modern example of this principle.

Her remarkable story is told in the book The Hiding Place.

She lived with her family in Holland just before World War II broke out.

The Nazi military machine was beginning to press in on European Jews like the jaws of a vice. Jews who had any chance were fleeing Germany and other neighboring countries, but the German military machine was on the alert to capture any fleeing Jews.

In response, an underground railroad was formed among compassionate people to assist the Jews to escape.

Corrie Ten Boom’s home was part of the underground system.

Eventually, she and her sister were arrested and condemned to a German concentration camp for their part in assisting Jews.

Her life in the concentration camp was terrible beyond belief. In any civilized country, not even animals would be legally treated the way she and the thousands of other people in the camp were treated.

Her sister, of weaker constitution than Corrie, died in the camp.

Though on any given morning when she awoke, she was breathing and her heart was beating, Corrie, herself, was as good as dead.

Only a short time stood between her and the gas chamber.

Then one day, due to a clerical error, she was inexplicably freed.

Snatched from the jaws of death, she was given her life back again.

Winston Churchill once said that there is nothing quite so exhilarating as being shot at and missed.

That must have been how Corrie Ten Boom felt. Death shot at her but missed.

In that sense we’ve all been shot at. We have all died, spiritually; but God has given us a second chance.

While we are dead, we may respond to His gift of life and receive new spiritual life.

Chapter 2 of Ephesians tells the story:

“I must die or get somebody to die for me. If the Bible doesn’t teach that, it doesn’t teach anything. And that is where the atonement of Jesus Christ comes in.”
— Dwight L. Moody

In chapter 2, Paul tells the Ephesian Christians:

“You were once spiritually alienated from God; but now, because of God’s grace, you have been spiritually united with him.”

As Gentiles, you were once spiritually alienated from Israel, but now you have been spiritually united with them into a living spiritual temple of God.

It’s God’s grace that gives you life and unites you with Him and also with people from whom you are alienated.

2:1-2 Immediately after his prayer, Paul reminds the Ephesians of the reality of personal sin.

Like them, we must never forget our pasts, the conditions from which Jesus saved us.

Those memories, though sometimes painful, will inspire us to thank Christ for all He has done on our behalf.

2:2 Paul describes Satan, the devil, as “the commander of the powers in the unseen world.”

Paul’s readers believed that Satan and evil spiritual forces inhabited the region between earth and sky.

Paul pictures Satan as ruling an evil spiritual kingdom, directing the demons and those who are against Christ and the rule of the Kingdom of God.

When Jesus was raised from the dead, He was victorious over the devil and His power because He demonstrated His own power even over death.

Therefore, Jesus Christ is the permanent Ruler of the whole world; the devil is only the temporary ruler of the part of the world that chooses to follow him.

The fact that all people, without exception, commit sin proves that everyone has a sinful nature.

We have not loved God with our whole hearts, and we have not consistently loved our neighbors as ourselves.

We are lost in sin and cannot save ourselves.

Does this mean only Christians do good things? Of course not—many people do good things for others because all people are made in the image of God, whether they acknowledge it or not.

On a relative scale, many people are moral, kind, and law-abiding.

Comparing these people to criminals, we would say that they are very good indeed.

But on God’s absolute scale, no one is good enough to earn salvation (“dead because of your disobedience and your many sins”; 2:1).

“Subject to God’s anger” describes those who will experience God’s judgment because they have rejected Christ.

But God offers to unite us with Christ’s perfect life so that we will be considered good in his sight.

We become Christians through God’s unmerited grace, not as the result of any effort, ability, intelligent choice, or act of service on our part.

Out of gratitude for this free gift, however, our hearts should overflow with a desire to help and serve others with kindness, love, and gentleness.

While no action or work we do can help us obtain salvation, God intends for our salvation to result in acts of service.

We are not saved merely for our own benefit but to serve Christ and to build up the church (4:12).

When someone gives you a gift, do you say, “That’s very nice—now, how much do I owe you?”

No, the appropriate response to a gift is “Thank you!”

Yet how often Christians, even after they have been given the gift of salvation, feel obligated to try to work their way to God.

Because our salvation and even our faith are gifts, we should respond with gratitude, praise, and joy.

We are God’s masterpiece (work of art, workmanship).

He alone masterminds our salvation. He works powerfully and creatively in us.

He uses us as His canvas.

If God considers us His masterpiece, we dare not treat ourselves or others with disrespect or as inferior work.

From Max Lucado’s LifeLessons:

The Ephesians forgot what God did to save them and to make them a part of His body.

God’s mercy plucks us from the destruction of our countless sins and places us in Jesus Christ’s righteousness.

Alan and Penny Mcllroy . . . have two adopted children [which] is commendable but not uncommon.

The fact that they have adopted special needs children is significant but not unique.

It’s the severity of the health problems that sets this story apart.

Saleena is a cocaine baby. Her birth mother’s overdose left Saleena unable to hear, see, speak, or move.

Penny and Alan adopted her at seven weeks.

The doctor gave her a year. She’s lived for six.

As Penny introduced me to Saleena, she ruffled her hair and squeezed her cheeks, but Saleena didn’t respond.

She never does. Barring a miracle, she never will.

Neither will her sister.

“This is Destiny,” Penny told me.

In the adjacent bed one-year-old Destiny lay, motionless and vegetative.

Penny will never hear Destiny’s voice.

Alan will never know Saleena’s kiss.

They’ll never hear their daughters sing in a choir, never see them walk across the stage.

They’ll bathe them, change them, adjust their feeding tubes, and rub their limp limbs, but barring God’s intervention, this mom and dad will never hear more than we heard that afternoon—gurgled breathing.

“I need to suction Saleena’s nose,” Penny said to me.

“You might want to leave.” I did, and as I did, I wondered, what kind of love is this?

What kind of love adopts disaster? What kind of love looks into the face of children, knowing full well the weight of their calamity, and says, “I’ll take them”?

(Destiny has since gone to heaven.)

When you come up with a word for such a love, give it to Christ.

For the day He left Nazareth is the day He declared His devotion for you and me.

We were just as helpless, in a spiritually vegetative state from sin.

According to Peter, our lives were “dead-end, empty-headed” (1 Peter 1:18 MSG).

But God, “who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (Ephesians 2:4, 5,).

Jesus left Nazareth in pursuit of the spiritual Saleenas and Destinys of the world and brought us to life. (From Next Door Savior by Max Lucado)

Ask yourself: Are there some people around you who slip through the cracks unnoticed?

Is there a lonely widow? An insecure junior-high student? A struggling single mother?

Pay these people a visit—bring flowers or another gift; invest some time in their lives.

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

Sunday, June 26
The Berean
Daily Verse and Comment

Ephesians 2:2

“…in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,”

A major characteristic of the human spirit is that it is habitually self-centered rather than God-centered.

A simple example illustrates how it became this way.

In Genesis 1:31 God takes satisfaction in all He had made, declaring it “very good.”

Included in this is Adam and Eve’s nature, as they were already created by this time.

Thus, at the beginning, mankind’s nature was not corrupted by contact with this world.

Genesis 3 records the episode of their confrontation with Satan that began the evil transformation of their basic nature. God did not create their nature as evil, but

it became evil through the influence of another spirit that they chose to follow without any intervention from their Creator.

The same process continues to this day, as each of us is born into this world and comes under the influence of the same spirit that influenced Adam and Eve to turn from God.

We are all born with a slight pull toward self, but not with the evil that eventually develops and manifests itself in our conduct.

Evil is not – cannot be – passed on through procreation, but it is fashioned anew by the spirit of the age into which each person is born.

It is a converted parent’s responsibility to God and to his children to ensure the right spirit dominates his home so the children can be properly nurtured.

People in the world understand this to some extent when they observe with maxims like,

“The apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree,” “Like father, like son,” or “Like mother, like daughter.”

This world’s Christians, to avoid responsibility for their evil, have blamed God for creating us this way. But God did not make us this way.

Mankind, represented by Adam and Eve, chose to become this way, and all of their descendants, including us, have chosen the same path under the influence of the same evil spirit who offered Adam and Eve the choice.

This accounts for the course of this world.

Jeremiah 17:9 shows us how evil God judges the source of our unconverted motivations to be:

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?”

The Revised Standard Version translates this as, “The natural heart of man is desperately corrupt; incurably sick.”

It is so bad, so evil, it cannot be salvaged by repairing it!

It must be completely replaced.

This is what the conversion process – our calling, repentance, justification, and sanctification – accomplishes.

We need to understand more completely why this aspect of God’s command to flee Babylon is so important.

We can be easily deceived about it, misunderstanding why God says the human heart is incurably sick.

In Luke 11:13, Jesus makes an easily overlooked comment:

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

The way He says this implies that those before Him were thoroughly, not partly, evil.

He flat out calls them evil! There is no equivocation, no modification of this verse in the heart of the sermon on the mount. Jesus Himself was called “good” in Matthew 19:16, but He immediately corrects the speaker, saying, “No one is good but One, that is, God.”

This is God’s assessment of human nature, not man’s.

Jesus is saying that, just because human nature knows how to and actually does some good things, it does not alter the fact that it is still incurably evil.

Our pride tends to blunt God’s assessment, rising to defend us from the condemnation of what we are compared to, the standard – God.

— John W. Ritenbaugh

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How should we then pray?

In our covenant relationship with God, we must first decide to follow Him each day of our life, and to learn His ways and thoughts

How do we put on the mind of Christ?

To put on the mind of Christ means that we must first decide to follow Jesus everyday, and then through our daily immersion in His Word and in the Spirit, we are then putting on His mind (see 1 Cor 2:16 and Php 2:5), and are thereby learning His ways and thoughts, which are much different from ours.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:28-30…

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

In other words, God is giving us an invitation here to allow Him to partner with us in our life, and in taking His yoke upon us He will carry the brunt of the load; and our part, in this relationship, is to learn His ways and thoughts, as we are daily immersing ourselves in His Word and in the Spirit, and then by doing so we are putting on the mind of Christ and are learning His ways of doing things (see Mat 6:33).

Isaiah tells us that God’s ways and thoughts are much different from ours.

Our first step in entering into relationship with Him is that we must seek Him diligently with all our heart.

Jeremiah 29:13

“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart”

And Isaiah in chapter 55:6-9 tells us to,

6 Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.

7 Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;

Let him return to the Lord,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.

8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.

9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah tells us to call on the Lord while He is near.

God will never move away from us, but we often move far from Him or erect barriers of sin between ourselves and Him.

Don’t wait until you have drifted far away from God to seek Him.

Later in life, turning to Him may be far more difficult.

Or God may come to judge the earth before you decide to turn to Him.

Accept God’s generous forgiveness now, while you can, before it is too late.

The people of Israel were foolish to act as if they knew what God was thinking and planning.

His knowledge and wisdom are far greater than any human’s.

We are foolish to try to fit God into our mold—to make His plans and purposes conform to ours.

Instead, we must strive to fit into His plans.

It is a big mistake for us to try and judge the LORD by our own thoughts and ways, because He thinks and acts in ways that transcend anything man could ever imagine, and to try to keep God in this little box, inside our mind, quenches the flow of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

We should always give room in our thinking for God to do things in ways and by means that we’re not even looking for or expecting, because most of the time when God does answer our prayer His answers generally come at 90° angles from where we’re looking and expecting.

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

Friday, June 24


To pray for a miracle, you may need to change your mindset.
by Wesley Baines

With God, anything is possible. Even a quick look at His works in the Bible reveals that He has healed the sick, granted wisdom, and even resurrected the dead.

And because God does not change over time, we can still count on Him to do these things today.

All we have to do is ask.

But sometimes, we just don’t know how to pray to God for the things we most desperately need, and it can seem as if God is ignoring our pleas.

If you’re in need of divine intervention and just aren’t sure how to ask, read on—we’ll show how you, too, can experience a miracle in your life.

How to Prepare

God answers prayer—of this, there is no doubt.

In Matthew 7:7, Christ tells us, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

But before we knock, we must prepare ourselves to talk to God.

If you have unconfessed sin in your life, now is the time to ask forgiveness from God.

In John 9:30, the blind man who was healed by Christ proclaims that –

“We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does His will.”

Even more tellingly, In Isaiah 59:2, we find out that sin is a barrier between us and God.

“But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.”

So, before you pray for a miracle, pray for forgiveness.

Examine your heart and give up whatever sin you find there, be it idolatry, hypocrisy, pride, a lack of faith, or anything else—these things warp your mindset so that you are incapable of asking God for a miracle.

Once you’ve prepared yourself through God’s forgiveness, it’s time to get praying for your miracle.

Let’s find out how to do it properly.

Know How to Pray

James 4:2 tells us that…

“You do not have because you do not ask.”

In order to receive a miracle, you must pray for it, but praying with the correct mindset is vital if you want God to answer.

Consider this. God always does what is best for us—even if, from our limited human perspective, it doesn’t seem that way.

When we pray from the wrong mindset—out of greed, for example—if God were to answer that prayer, it would feed that greed and bring ruin to us the long run.

And so praying from the correct mindset means we have to pray for things that are within God’s will.

In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus Christ shows us exactly how to do this, and it is here that we can begin to understand how to correctly ask for a miracle.

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

Let’s examine this perfect example of prayer.

Here, Christ isn’t saying we have to replicate the Lord’s Prayer each time we pray.

He’s showing us how to think about prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer begins with an acknowledgement that God’s will is best, and that His will is what we want.

That’s incredibly important, as our selfish, human desires can sometimes cloud our judgment concerning what we pray for.

When asking for a miracle, always ask for that which God would approve of.

Next, the prayer mentions “our daily bread.”

This simply means asking God to take care of you, and to supply you with what you need.

Now, no one needs a new Mercedes or a six-digit bank account, or fame.

What you need are things like food, water, shelter, good health, and love.

God will supply these things, even miraculously. But if the miracle you’re asking for is a brand-new four-story house, you may need to re-think the motivation behind your request.

The remaining portion of the Lord’s Prayer is all about forgiveness and deliverance, and are a reminder, as you’ve now learned, that we must both be willing to forgive and to ask forgiveness regularly.

Follow God’s own example of how to pray, and you can’t go wrong in asking for a miracle.

Live Out Your Faith

Even after you pray for God’s intervention in your life, your task is not finished—you must keep sincerely living out your faith as best you can.

You’re not perfect. No one is. And God isn’t going to remove His hand from your life because of your mistakes. But the key is this: keep trying. Don’t give up.

Living out your beliefs is about more than just avoiding sin—Christianity is an active faith, and God calls each of us to aid the poor, to treat others with kindness and respect, and to serve God using whatever gifts He has given you.

God is here for you, but if you’re not living out your faith, it is difficult to have the right mindset with which to ask for a miracle.

Do your best to live for Him, though, and He will answer your prayer.

Don’t Give Up

If God seems silent, at first, don’t give up.

Continually keep yourself prepared, pray as Christ prayed, and live out your faith, and God will answer you.

Keep in mind, though, that the miracle you seek may not come in the form of fire from heaven or instantaneous healing.

Your miracle may come in the form of a doctor’s visit or a bonus at work or the arrival of a friend who is willing to help you.

Your miracle may even be in the form of a renewed relationship with God as you pray for the miraculous on a daily basis.

Keep praying, and keep your eyes open for His work. If you follow these steps and pray with the right mindset, He’ll answer.

[Wesley Baines is a graduate student at Regent University’s School of Divinity, and a freelance writer working in the fields of spirituality, self-help, and religion]

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God’s use of paradoxes in the Bible…

What are some examples of paradoxes in the Bible?

What Does the Bible Teach through Paradoxes?
by Kile Baker

Paradoxes are a unique way of communicating.

Somehow, two things are put together that communicate something profound through their contradiction.

Take these for example: Socrates famously said: “I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.”

Which is it? Does he know nothing or the one thing which is nothing?

You can’t know both nothing and something!

Or what about Vince Lombardi’s observation: “Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit.”

You can only have a habit if you do something over and over, and quitters don’t do that!

These are head-scratchers, right?

And these are just everyday paradoxes.

The Bible is full of them, and they’re immensely important in helping us understand God, ourselves, and the world.

What Is a Paradox?

If you were to google “paradox,” you’d probably get something like: “A self-contradictory statement that when explained may be true.”

It’s not a bad definition, but since we’re talking Scripture here, and Scripture is ultimately from God, the truth will be what we’re after.

We don’t want to know what may be true about God; we want to know what is true about God.

So here’s my definition: “A paradox is Truth, held in the tension of contradiction.”

Notice the capital “T”? It’s the big truth stuff, not just that 2+2=4 but the Truth about God’s nature, power, and interaction in the world.

It’s the big stuff! And since you’ll probably want to know how it affects you, let’s say it this way:

“Paradoxes are how we discover the Truth about you and God, in the tension of contradiction.”

So let’s do that. Here are three huge paradoxes found in Scripture that communicate something significant about you and God.

Paradox #1: With Jesus, impossible is the new possible.

Early on in Jesus’ ministry, His credentials were questioned pretty regularly.

People thought they knew His parents, where He was really from, who He was (and wasn’t), and what He was about.

But that all changed in a very crowded room, in a small house outside of Jerusalem in the 1st century.

Many people had gathered to hear Jesus teach, including His disciples, the house owners, the neighbors, the religious ruling class, and anyone who happened to be in the area.

Jesus was known as a teacher and a healer by this point, so a brave group of friends brought their immobile friend to Jesus to see if He could give the man the ability to walk.

At one point during the encounter, he asked what appeared to be a very easy question in Luke 5:23: “Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?”

They all knew the answer to this question.

It was “Your sins are forgiven” because you couldn’t see forgiveness — but you could tell if a once crippled man could suddenly walk!

Jesus had already told the man that his sins were forgiven, which highly bothered the religious folk, while the rest of the people probably just shrugged.

How could you tell if it was true or not?

They may have just been words. And then Jesus complicates the matter a bit, because to the surprise of everyone in the room, the crippled is told to get up, take his mat and go home — and he can.

Uh oh, this is a bit awkward. If Jesus could do that, guess what else they had realized was a real possibility?

That Jesus could actually forgive sins. But if only God could do that, then what did that say about this man named Jesus?

Surely He was more than a man, right?

The Truth about God:

The Truth about God is that He often works in ways we see as improbable and impossible.

As Christians, we seem to think God simply can’t work in some ways, situations, or through certain circumstances.

People in the 1st century thought that too.

And then Jesus just caused them to question everything they thought was possible with God.

Maybe you should too?

The Truth About You:

The Truth about you is, you sometimes think that just because you can’t see God at work in the world or in your life, that He isn’t doing anything.

Maybe like the forgiveness that couldn’t be seen in the story, God is working in powerful ways in your life, but you just can’t see it or haven’t realized it yet?

Paradox #2: Suffering is a blessing.

I don’t know anyone who prays for and seeks suffering.

That wouldn’t be just weird, but wildly unhealthy. And yet, somehow, suffering is unique in the sense that God does some of His best work through it.

Through suffering, God brings something meaningful from something terrible.

God isn’t the cause of the suffering, but He can bring good from it.

The writer of Hebrews draws a direct correlation:

Hebrews 2:10

“In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what He suffered.”

There was no other way. As Christians, we usually highlight that God died for us, and rightly so, but it can be easy to forget that He also suffered for us.

God didn’t have to do that; He chose to.

It’s what makes the life of Jesus and His selfless act on our behalf even more incredible.

God allowed Himself to be humiliated, tortured, and finally killed — terrible things that we should have experienced if we take the impact of our sin against God seriously.

He truly blessed us through His suffering.

Through the loss of His life, we could gain ours.

Because He suffered, we could be blessed.

The Truth about God:

The Truth about God is, He suffered for you and me willingly.

It was the plan.

From the moment sin entered the world, God intended to suffer and die on your behalf.

God blessed us through His own suffering. How crazy is that!

The Truth About You:

The Truth about you is, you don’t want to suffer.

Not even for a moment, but there are some things we can only get through suffering.

Some parts of our faith can only be built and grown through suffering.

Don’t seek to suffer, but if it comes, see how God may be using it to draw you closer to Him.

Paradox #3: Bad news is good news.
There are a ton of other paradoxes in the Bible, but let me mention just one more, and it’s an important one:

It’s the idea that bad news actually gets us to the good news.

When someone goes to the doctor, they’ll usually be given three pieces of information: the diagnosis, the prognosis, and the cure.

The diagnosis tells us what’s wrong with us. It may be as simple as “your arm is broken” to “you have cancer.”

The prognosis is what will happen to you if you’re left untreated.

If you don’t put your arm in a cast, it will remain crooked and broken, or if you don’t kill the cancer, it will kill you.

The cure is the treatment that will make your arm usable again or help you continue to live by killing the cancer.

Christianity has its own set of these three pieces of information.

The diagnosis is, we’ve “all fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) because of our sin.

It’s the default human condition.

The prognosis is “death” is the natural and spiritual consequence of being in and remaining in our sin (Romans 5:12).

The cure is that through Jesus Christ, we can receive the gift of eternal life from God (Romans 6:23) and that sin no longer is our master — God is.

Here’s the thing: the offer from God, the “good news” of how God has rescued us from ourselves through Christ, is more generous than we thought when we realize how bad the bad news is.

Without Christ, the bad news is that we’re terrible people who will naturally separate ourselves from God in this life temporarily and in the next life eternally if left to ourselves.

When we realize that’s our default state, that we’ve been incredibly offensive and harmful to God, it softens our hearts to the point of surrender when we’re confronted with the fact that instead of God leaving us to our flawed selves, He gave us His good self.

He’s the reason that the bad news paradoxically leads us to the good news.

The Truth about God:

The Truth about God is, He could have given us exactly what we deserved: to live life for ourselves, apart from Him for now and throughout eternity. It wouldn’t have been His fault at all.

The Truth About You:

The Truth about you (and I) is that apart from God, we don’t have a shred of goodness in us.

Jesus was clear when He said, “no one is good but God alone.” He’s right.

You and I aren’t good, but God is. And He chose to be good to us.

These are just three of the pivotal paradoxes in the Bible, but if you open it up and poke around for 5 minutes, you’ll find a lot more, including how God is both one in essence and three in personhood.

You’ll discover that Jesus Himself is a walking paradox as He is both God and man, both limitless and finite.

Paradoxes may be hard to understand, but they’re one of the best ways to understand who God is and how He operates.

The power of paradoxes is understanding that something that can’t be true actually is.

[Kile Baker is a former Atheist who didn’t plan on becoming a Christian, let alone a Pastor, who now writes to try and make Christianity simple.]

Also Paul points out that even our Christian Life is paradoxical, and we have to learn to embrace It…

In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul insisted on this paradox of being human, which is to say, in one sense, that we’re both morally frail and also morally aspiring.

In Romans 7, he confesses his own tragic doubleness:

“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”

In this, we’re a mystery to ourselves: We fail the good that we will, and indulge the evil that we hate.”

The fact is, we each prove Paul’s point every day.

And most importantly, the Bible teaches us about the most important paradox in order for us to live our lives in complete dedication to God…

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Galatians 2:20).

To save one’s life, he or she must lose it. “Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it” (Luke 17:33).

To be wise, we must become fools. “If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise” (I Corinthians 3:18).

To reign, we must serve. “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things” (Matthew 25:21).

To be exalted, we must become humble. “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:12).

To be first, we must be last. “So the last shall be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16).

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

Wed, June 22
Minute Meditations


A paradox may be described as “a contradiction with meaning written underneath.”

On the surface, it makes little or no sense.

Only the discerning eye (or heart) can perceive the underlying meaning.

A familiar example occurs in the writings of St. Paul:

“When I am weak then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9–11).

At a rational level, the statement makes no sense, yet many among us can recall experiences within which the statement rings true.

It is the mystic more than anybody else that can entertain and embrace this paradoxical wisdom.

This alternative consciousness, with its capacity for deeper perception and understanding, is not merely a feature of human life but an evolutionary endowment that characterizes all creation at the cosmic and planetary levels alike.

Birth and death are not merely human experiences; they characterize the whole of God’s creation.

On the planetary scale, earthquakes serve as a good example.

Metaphorically, an earthquake can be described as the earth-body releasing its pent-up energies, so that it can continue to grow and flourish in a more creative way.

Without earthquakes, we would have no earth, nor would any of us be around even to speculate on this baffling paradox of birth-death-rebirth.

[from the book Paschal Paradox: Reflections on a Life of Spiritual EVOLUTION, by Diarmuid O’Murchu, page 61-62]

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Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom…

So don’t worry about tomorrow

Matthew 6:25-34
The Message

25-26 “If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion.

There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body.

Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

27-29 “Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch?

All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference?

Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers.

They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it?

The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

30-33 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?

What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving.

People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works.

Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions.

Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

34 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.

God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

Seek Your Reward from God, Not from People

John chapter 6 starts out by instructing us, as Jesus’ followers, to live for God’s approval, and not the praise of man.

Jesus continued to indict the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy and lack of true righteousness, while instructing His followers in the way of righteousness

(v. 20). The Pharisees had missed the point about how a person becomes righteous.

They thought it was by works of law-keeping. Because the Pharisees had sought to establish their own righteousness, their self-righteousness could only produce hypocrisy.

They were masquerading as something they were not.

Jesus made it clear in 6:33 when He insisted that we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness from which all of life’s resources flow.

Hypocrisy is, of course, true of all of us from time to time, but Jesus was encouraging genuineness and true spirituality as opposed to hypocritical self-righteousness.

God despises appearance that is not reality (e.g., Ananias and Sapphira; Acts 5:1-10).

Don’t Worry
(v. 25) In this passage Jesus strikes at the tendency to center our lives around food and clothing, thus missing life’s real meaning.

The problem is not so much what we eat and wear today, but what we shall eat and wear ten, twenty, or thirty years from now.

Such worry about the future is sin because it denies the love, wisdom, and power of God.

It denies the love of God by implying that He doesn’t care for us.

It denies His wisdom by implying that He doesn’t know what He is doing.

And it denies His power by implying that He isn’t able to provide for our needs.

This type of worry causes us to devote our finest energies to making sure we will have enough to live on.

Then before we know it, our lives have passed, and we have missed the central purpose for which we were made.

God did not create us in His image with no higher destiny than that we should consume food.

We are here to love, worship, and serve Him and to represent His interests on earth.

Our bodies are intended to be our servants, not our masters.

Because of the ill effects of worry, Jesus tells us not to worry about the needs that God promises to supply.

Worry may:

(1) Damage your health,

(2) Disrupt your productivity,

(3) Negatively affect the way you treat others,

(4) Rob your day of joy, and

(5) Reduce your ability to trust in God.

How many ill effects of worry are you experiencing?

Here is the difference between worry and genuine concern: Worry immobilizes you, but concern moves you to action.


The same God who created life in you can be trusted with the details of your life.

6:26 Worrying about the future can make us so focused on work that we fail to attend to what is most important.

6:27 Worrying is more harmful than helpful.

6:28-30 God does not ignore those who depend on Him.

6:31-32 Worrying shows a lack of faith in and understanding of God.

6:33 Worrying keeps us from what God wants us to pursue.

6:34 Living one day at a time keeps us from being consumed with worry.

To “seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously” means to put God first in your life, to fill your thoughts with His desires, to use His character as your life’s pattern, and to keep on implementing His Kingdom values on earth.

What is really important to you?

People, objects, goals, and other desires all compete for priority.

Any of these can quickly become most important to you if you don’t actively choose to give God first place in every area of your life.

In Jesus’ Kingdom, worrying about daily needs leaves us empty.

But maintaining a good relationship with Him and loving others give us all these benefits as by-products.

Time devoted to planning for tomorrow is time well spent; time devoted to worrying about tomorrow is time wasted.

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference.

Careful planning is thinking ahead about goals, steps, and schedules, and trusting in God’s guidance.

When done well, planning helps alleviate worry.

Worrying, by contrast, consumes us with anxiety and makes it difficult for us to trust God.

Worriers let their obsession with plans and outcomes interfere with their relationship with God.

Don’t let worries about tomorrow affect your relationship with God today.

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

Tuesday, June 21
God At Eventide
by Two Listeners


Appeal to Me often. Do not implore so much as claim My Help as your right.

It is yours in Friendship’s name. Claim it with a mighty, impelling insistence. It is yours.

Not so much Mine to give you, as yours; but yours because it is included in the Great Gift of Myself that I gave you.

An All-embracing Gift, a Wonder Gift. Claim, accept, use it. All is well.

Now unto Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
(Jude 1:24-25)

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In the beginning God…

God the Father has revealed His message and person through His only begotten Son, whom the Bible calls the Lamb of God…

An introduction to John’s gospel:

The words “Read This First” have taken an important role in the packaging of modern consumer products.

Most consumers think life is too short for instruction manuals, so the packagers state it plainly:

If you cannot read the manual, at least read this very important part.

“Read This First”—it is for your own good.

The Gospel of John makes a similar claim. It is the only book in the Bible that states its purpose clearly and succinctly:

It was written to tell individuals how to find eternal life (20:31).

Jesus is the Lamb of God…

“Veiled in flesh the godhead see; Hail the incarnate Deity, Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.”
— Charles Wesley

John wastes no time in introducing Jesus to his readers as the Word of God, the Son of God, and the Lamb of God.

Unlike the writers of the three Synoptic Gospels, John introduces Jesus at the age of thirty and includes no information about His birth.

In the first eighteen verses of his book, John introduces the Lord. He begins by proclaiming that Jesus reveals God the Father and tells us that when He came to earth, God’s Son showed the human race what the Father was like—eternal, personal, and the Source of all life.

The word life appears no fewer than thirty-six times in this Gospel along with several other key words.

We could say that life establishes the central theme for the book.

We need only read the first verse of the Bible (Gen. 1:1) to understand the central issue of life, and it centers on the reality of God.

If there is a God (and there is), and if that God has spoken in history (and he has), then the most important thing in the world is to find out what He has said.

The Gospel of John is a loved and familiar book, but many who can quote important verses from its pages have a less-than-satisfactory grasp of its important theology.

Yet John wasted no time in introducing the key question:

“Who is Jesus Christ?”

In his presentation of Jesus as the Son of God, John started out with creation.

Everything that was ever made was made through Him; and without Him, nothing has ever been created.

Jesus was the Source of power in the original physical creation and in the spiritual creation by which people are brought to new life in Christ.

Do not forget that key word life.

John used it frequently in his Gospel, and he also used it thirteen times in his first epistle and seventeen more times in Revelation.

Here in this Gospel we have more than twenty-five percent of all New Testament references to life.

John wanted to make sure that everyone knew life is possible only through the Son of God.

John 1

Jesus Christ is the heart and core of the gospel.

Christianity is not a philosophy of life; it centers in a person who is the core of everything Christians believe.

Like His heavenly Father, Jesus reveals eternality, personality, deity, creativity, life, and light.

Some interpreters have translated the opening phrase of this Gospel,

“Before there was a beginning, the Word had been.”

Indeed, the familiar repetition of Genesis 1:1 almost looks as if John wrote a Gospel of two beginnings—a creation account that parallels physical birth and spiritual rebirth.

But it is important to notice that we are dealing with two beginnings, not creations.

The central focus of this verse is eternality.

Like His heavenly Father, Jesus always was and therefore existed at the beginning of time.

It is interesting that John should call Jesus the Word rather than some other name to introduce his book—interesting, but not surprising since the Jews often referred to God in such terminology.

The doctrine at stake here is the deity of Christ.

Jesus is God, and John wanted to make that point immediately.

In fact, this prologue (vv. 1-18) begins and ends with a strong statement of this doctrine.

The term Word (logos) would have been familiar to the Greeks as well.

Their understanding centered on ultimate reason or the rationale of the universe rather than the personal God revealed to Abraham and his descendants.

John claimed that the God of creation, the ultimate mind of the universe, had taken on human form; He had become incarnate.

The Bible allows no place for atheism and no room for doubt about how God has spoken—through the Word.

Before there was a beginning, the Word had been coequal with God throughout all eternity.

But what did the apostle mean by with God?

The Greek word is pros which literally means “toward,” implying a face-to-face relationship.

John would have neither atheism nor unitarianism (which is a form of Christianity that denies the doctrine of the Trinity) .

He told us later in his Gospel that the Godhead consists of a trinity, but here in verse 1 we learn plurality.

So Jesus, the Word, is eternal and personal.

Nothing can separate the heavenly Father from His Son.

Verse 2 merely emphasizes verse 1.

Gary Vanderet puts it this way:

“John intends that the entire book be read in light of this verse. The deeds and the words of Jesus are the deeds and words of God” (Vanderet, Prelude to Deity).

(1:3) Unlike the Gospel writers before him, John tells us that Jesus participated in creation and again states his case twice for emphasis.

Surely this is a deliberate link with Genesis, and it sets the stage for other New Testament Scriptures which show us Jesus’ involvement in creation:

“For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him” (Col. 1:16).

“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe” (Heb. 1:1-2).

Creation is a foundational doctrine of the Christian faith.

Virtually every other aspect of theology rests upon our understanding of God as the origin of all life and of the role Jesus Christ, the Word, in creation.

John could hardly say it more clearly: without Him nothing was made that has been made— everything from subatomic particles to galaxies.

Only God who created all things can redeem them.

Creation is the foundation stone of the gospel.

Christ could not have been created, for He created all things.

There was a “historical Jesus,” but this terminology refers only to His thirty-three years on earth.

His life had no beginning, and it will have no end.

In verse 4 we find the first appearance of our key word—life.

The revelation of the Lamb was also the revelation of life.

No fewer than thirty-six times in John, we find the word zoe.

Jesus Christ the Creator provides physical life; Jesus Christ the Redeemer provides spiritual life; and Jesus Christ the Savior provides eternal life.

In this verse John also introduced another key word— light.

The Life becomes the Light of men.

Notice these positive terms. What a wonderful contrast to death and darkness.

In the Word, God’s person and power were revealed to humanity.

Here again we see a reference to creation since, in the Genesis account, light was the first evidence of God’s creative work.

God is always the Source of light and life.

Christ the Son, the Creator, provides life and light to humanity.

He alone is the life-giver and the light-bearer.

John is getting ready to write new lyrics to an old melody,

“With you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light” (Ps. 36:9).

(1:5) In this verse John picked up a common first-century theme, the symbols of light and darkness representing good and evil.

The word understood might be rendered “overcome.”

All the forces of Satan tried to prevent life and extinguish the light—but they could not.

These five verses tell us that Jesus came to the world with a message of hope, and He came from heaven where He had lived eternally with the Father.

The word rendered “understood” in the NIV is translated “seizes” in Mark 9:18 and “overtakes” in John 12:35.

God sent His light into the world, but mankind did not understand it, could not grasp it. But the world will never be able to defeat it.

So what does all of this mean for you and me?

Do you ever feel as though your life is too complex and your problems too profound for God to understand?

Remember, God created the entire universe, and nothing is too difficult for Him.

God also created you, He is alive today, and His love is bigger than any problem you may face.

When God created, He made something from nothing.

Because God created you from nothing, you have no basis for pride.

Remember that you exist only because God made you, and you have special gifts only because God gave them to you.

With God you are something valuable and unique; apart from God you are nothing.

If you try to live without Him, you will be abandoning the purpose for which you were made.

Why does Jesus’ life bring light to everyone?

Because physical death brings eternal darkness and only Jesus’ eternal life (His light) planted in us will keep us alive in His new Kingdom for eternity.

Jesus is eternally alive because He is God.

He came to earth to offer humankind the hope and light of His eternal life.

It can’t be purchased, only received as a gift. But Jesus gives it only to those who want it—those who want to live the way God’s citizens will live in His future eternal Kingdom.

“The darkness can never extinguish it” means that the darkness of evil never has and never will overcome God’s light.

Jesus Christ is the creator of life, and His life brings light to humankind (1:9).

In His light, we see ourselves as we really are—sinners in need of a Savior.

When we follow Jesus, the true Light, we can avoid walking blindly through the spiritual darkness that sin brings.

Jesus lights the path ahead of us, illuminating the truth and clarifying our thoughts so we can see how to live.

He removes the darkness of sin from our lives.

In what ways have you allowed the light of Jesus Christ to shine into your life?

Let Him guide you, and you’ll never need to stumble in darkness.

(1:8) We, like John the Baptist, are not sources of God’s light; we merely reflect that light.

Jesus Christ is the true Light; He helps us see our way to God and shows us how to walk along that way.

But Jesus has chosen to reflect His light through His followers to an unbelieving world, perhaps because unbelievers are not able to bear the full blazing glory of His light firsthand.

The word witness indicates our role as reflectors of Christ’s light.

We are never to present our own ideas as the light to others, but we are always to point them to the true Light, Jesus.

(vv. 10-11) Although Jesus created the world, the people He created didn’t recognize Him (1:10).

Even the people chosen by God to prepare the rest of the world for the Messiah rejected Him (1:11), although the entire Old Testament pointed to His coming.

(vv. 12-13) All who welcome Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives are reborn spiritually, receiving new life from God.

Through faith in Jesus, this new birth changes us from the inside out—rearranging our attitudes, desires, and motives.

Being born makes you physically alive and places you in your parents’ family (1:13).

Being born of God makes you spiritually alive and puts you in God’s family (1:12).

Have you asked Jesus to make you a new person?

This fresh start in life is available to all who believe in Him.

“The Word became human.” By doing this, Jesus became…

(1) The perfect teacher—in His life we see how God thinks and therefore how we should think (Philippians 2:5-11);

(2) The perfect example—as a model of what we are to become, He shows us how to live and gives us the power to live that way (1 Peter 2:21);

(3) The perfect sacrifice—Jesus came as a sacrifice for all sins, and His death satisfied God’s requirements for the removal of sin (Colossians 1:15-23).

Jesus became a human when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb.

He was not part human and part God; He was completely human and completely divine (Colossians 2:9).

Before Jesus came, people could know God only partially.

After Jesus came, people could know God more fully because He became visible and tangible in Jesus.

The two most common errors people make about Jesus are,

(1) To minimize His humanity by disregarding how He identifies with us in our human bodies and

(2) To minimize His deity by rejecting what He has single-handedly done for us in His death and resurrection.

But Jesus is both God and man.

(v. 14) “The Father’s one and only Son” emphasizes the uniqueness of Jesus.

All believers are called “children of God,” but Jesus is one of a kind and enjoys a perfect relationship with God the Father.

God’s law in the Old Testament revealed His nature and showed people how to live His way.

God’s unfailing love and faithfulness also reveal His nature to us.

Moses emphasized God’s law and justice, while Jesus Christ came to highlight God’s mercy, love, faithfulness, and forgiveness.

Moses could only be the giver of the law, while Christ came to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17).

Previously, the law revealed God’s nature and His will; now Jesus Christ reveals the nature and will of God.

Rather than coming through impersonal stone tablets, God’s revelation now comes through a dynamic, living person.

As we get to know Jesus better in John’s Gospel, our understanding of God will greatly increase.

God communicated through various people in the Old Testament, usually prophets who were told to give specific messages (Hebrews 1:1-2).

But no one ever saw God.

They saw His glory but not His form.

Jesus is both God and the Father’s unique Son.

In Him God revealed His nature and essence in a way that could be seen and touched.

In Jesus, God became a man who lived on earth.

From Max Lucado’s Life Lessons:

The Greeks and the Jews were familiar with the concept of the word. For the Jews it was an expression of God’s wisdom, and for the Greeks it meant reason and intellect.

Leaving His heavenly home, Jesus put on human flesh to bring us God’s Good News.

For John and Andrew, it wasn’t enough to listen to John the Baptist.

Most would have been content to serve in the shadow of the world’s most famous evangelist.

Could there be a better teacher?

Only one. And when John and Andrew saw Him, they left John the Baptist and followed Jesus.

Note the request they made. “Rabbi,” they asked, “where are You staying?” (John 1:38).

Pretty bold request. They didn’t ask Jesus to give them a minute or an opinion or a message or a miracle.

They asked for His address.

They wanted to hang out with Him. They wanted to know Him. They wanted to know what caused His head to turn and His heart to burn and His soul to yearn.

They wanted to study His eyes and follow His steps.

They wanted to see Him. They wanted to know what made Him laugh and if He ever got tired.

And most of all, they wanted to know, Could Jesus be who John said He was—and if He is, what on earth is God doing on the earth?

You can’t answer such a question by talking to His cousin; you’ve got to talk to the man Himself.

Jesus’ answer to the disciples? “Come and see” (v. 39).

He didn’t say, “Come and glance” or “Come and peek.”

He said, “Come and see.” Bring your bifocals and binoculars.

There is no time for side-glances or occasional peeks.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

The disciple fixes his eyes on the Savior. (From 3:16 by Max Lucado)

If people want to know what God is like, they can look at Jesus.

If they want to know what Jesus is like, they should be able to look at His followers.

Can people see Christ in you?

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

Tuesday, June 21
The Berean
Daily Verse and Comment

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”
— John 1:12

The word right means “authority” or “power.”

This right applies to us, the called of God.

Jesus came to give us abundant life and ultimately to save us.

We cannot let ourselves feel as though we were behind the door when the gifts of God’s Holy Spirit were handed out.

He has given all whom He has called—all who have received Him—the power to become a son of God.

We have that authority.

God is faithful and true to what Paul writes in I Corinthians 10:13, that He never gives us a trial that is too great for us.

He has granted us the power to overcome.

We have it, but most of the time, we do not use the gifts He has given.

We perhaps lack the patience or the faith, and we back away from the challenge that He has put before us.

But He remains faithful to His promise; the power is there.

After all, we have the Holy Spirit, the very power that created the earth. Though we do not have it in the measure that we will eventually have it, we have enough to do the job that God has given us to do.

John 1:12 also mentions “those who believe in His name.”

“Name” to a Hebrew person indicates what the person is, and not the phonetic sound that is attached to this particular person.

My name is John; that name identifies me.

But to a Hebrew, the name of “Yahshua” or “Jesus” would not just identify the Person of Jesus, but he or she would take the name to indicate what He is—His character.

This principle carries over into English.

When someone mentions another individual to us, we immediately think about that person’s personality, the way he does things, the way he speaks, his mannerisms, his reputation, etc.

If we hear the President’s name, we instantly mentally conjure some of his characteristics. They flash before our minds.

Those who believe in Christ’s name will be saved.

Those who will become sons of God in the fullest sense are those who trust in, rely upon, and conduct their lives according to what God is—what Jesus Christ is.

He is Lord. He is Master. He is Savior. He is Healer. He is Creator. He is Shepherd. He is Lawgiver. He is faithful to His promises.

Everything that Jesus Christ reveals to us about His personality and character is wrapped up in His name.

So, we have to conduct our lives within the framework of trusting in that name.

That is what will lead to eternal life. Because we trust and rely on His name, we will obey. We will have certain godly attitudes. We will submit.

— John W. Ritenbaugh

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Jesus said, “Why do you call me Lord and do not the things I tell you to do?”…

Not everyone who comes to Jesus and says Lord Lord shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven…

Jesus said, “Only those will enter who do the will of my Father in Heaven.”

Matthew 7:21-29
The Message

21-23 Jesus speaking: “Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with me.

What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills.

I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our super-spiritual projects had everyone talking.’

And do you know what I am going to say?

‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’

24-25 “These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living.

They are foundational words, words to build a life on.

If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock.

Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.

26-27 “But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach.

When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”

28-29 When Jesus concluded his address, the crowd burst into applause.

They had never heard teaching like this. It was apparent that he was living everything he was saying—quite a contrast to their religion teachers!

This was the best teaching they had ever heard.

Build your house on rock and not sand:

(v. 21) The Lord Jesus warns against people who falsely profess to acknowledge Him as Savior, but have never been converted.

Not everyone who calls Jesus, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven.

Only those who do the will of God enter the kingdom.

The first step in doing the will of God is to believe on the Lord Jesus (John 6:29).

On judgment day when unbelievers stand before Christ (Rev. 20:11–15), many will remind Him that they prophesied, or cast out demons, or performed many wonders—all in His name.

But their protestation will be in vain. Jesus will declare to them that He never knew them or acknowledged them as His own.

Judgment Day is the final day of reckoning when God will settle all accounts, judging sin and rewarding faith.

(vv. 24-27) The two people Jesus compares at the end of the Sermon on the Mount have several points in common: they both build, they both hear Jesus’ teaching, and they both experience the same set of circumstances in life.

The difference between them isn’t lack of knowledge but that one ignores Jesus’ words.

Externally their lives may look similar, but the lasting, structural differences will be revealed by the storms of life.

When you follow Jesus, the immediate differences between your life and the lives of others may not be obvious at first, but the benefits will eventually affect your eternal destiny.

Are you a wise builder, practicing the powerful teachings and promises Jesus gave in this sermon?

To build “on solid rock” means to be a hearing, responding disciple, not a phony, superficial one.

Practicing obedience forms the solid foundation, enabling us to weather the storms of life.

We learn how to do this by following God’s Word as He intended.

(See James 1:22-27 for more on putting into practice what we hear.)

Like a house of cards, the fool’s life crumbles. Most people do not deliberately seek to build on a false or inferior foundation; instead, they just don’t think about their life’s purpose.

Many people are headed for destruction—not always out of stubbornness, but sometimes out of thoughtlessness or ignorance.

Can you help others stop and think about where their lives are headed?

What can you do to point out the consequences of ignoring Jesus’ message and help people see the benefits of following him?

The teachers of religious law (religious scholars) often cited traditions and quoted authorities to support their arguments and interpretations.

But Jesus spoke with a new authority—His own. He didn’t need to quote anyone because He is the original Word (John 1:1).

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

Monday, June 20
Pursuit of His Presence

by Gloria Copeland

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock” (Matt. 7:24-25).

For years now I’ve been telling people to spend time in the Word. Almost everywhere I preach, no matter what topic I’m talking about, it seems I always get back to the importance of putting the Word first place in my life.

You may have heard me say it a hundred times. But you know, hearing it isn’t enough. It’s doing it that will give you success.

Jesus taught us that principle in Matthew 7. There He told about two men. Both of them had heard the Word, yet Jesus said one of the men was foolish and the other wise.

What made the difference between the two?

The wise man acted on what he heard and the foolish man didn’t.

You may know full well that you need to spend time in the Word. But unless you act on that knowledge, it won’t do you any good when the storms of life come.

So take action! Begin now to set aside time for the Word each day.

Begin now making it the number one priority on your schedule. Don’t wait until you’re faced with some terrible situation or some storm of life to do it.

Have you ever tried to build a house in a storm?

Ken has been through several hurricanes, and he has seen the wind blow so hard that coconuts shot through the air like cannonballs.

Just think about some poor fellow out there trying to build his house with the wind blowing at 120 mph!

Don’t do that. Don’t wait until you’re desperate to make time for the Word. Make the decision and start today.

Then, when the storms of life come against your house, you’ll be sitting inside in front of the fireplace just rocking and praising God.

You’ll be glad that you didn’t let the devil talk you into being too busy for the Word.

Speak the Word: I am a wise man because I hear God’s words and I do them. (Matt. 7:24)

For Further Study: Proverbs 1:1-9

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Christ became to us Wisdom from God…

Christ alone is the Power and Wisdom of God…

1 Corinthians 1

Paul wrote this letter to the church in Corinth while he was visiting Ephesus during his third missionary journey (Acts 19:1–20:1).

Corinth and Ephesus faced each other across the Aegean Sea.

Paul knew the Corinthian church well because he had spent 18 months in Corinth during his second missionary journey (Acts 18:1-18).

While in Ephesus, he had heard about problems in Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:11).

Around the same time, a delegation from the Corinthian church had visited Paul to ask his advice about their conflicts (16:17).

Paul’s purpose for writing was to correct those problems and to answer questions church members had asked in a previous letter (7:1).

Corinth had a sordid history.

Strabo (a Greek geographer, philosopher,
Archaeologists, who lived between 64 or 63 BC to 24 AD) claimed the city had one thousand temple prostitutes servicing the temple of Aphrodite on the Acrocorinth.

Archaeologists have discovered many clay models of human genitalia offered to Asclepius, the god of healing, presumably to petition him to heal venereal disease. But that perverse city was destroyed by Rome in 146 B.C.

The Corinth Paul knew had been rebuilt on the site of the ancient city by the Roman emperor Julius Caesar in 44 B.C.

It was populated largely by freemen whose status was barely above that of slave.

It was a center for international trade, attracting people from all over the world.

It followed Roman laws and culture and Greek philosophy and art.

Corinth’s religious composition varied greatly, including worship of the Roman and Greek gods, the mystery cults from Asia and Egypt, and Judaism.

Because of its commercial strength, the city possessed wealth.

These riches brought all kinds of people to populate the area: the educated and sophisticated; people seeking their fortunes; prostitutes and criminals.

The Corinthian church itself contained people who had been sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals offenders, thieves, greedy, drunkards, slanderers, and swindlers (see 6:9-11).

Not many were “wise by human standards,” “influential,” or “of noble birth” (1:26).

Rather, they were “foolish,” “weak,” and “despised” (1:27-28), and some were certainly “slaves” (7:21-22; 12:13).

Given the nature of Corinth and its people, and of the Corinthian church itself, it is no wonder that Paul reminded the church that it had been “sanctified” or set apart as God’s people, and was “called to be holy” (1:2).

“Holy” referred to the fact that the church was to remain dedicated to God as His people, and that it was to be pure.

It may have been a remembrance of the church’s formerly deplorable members that caused Paul to be so thankful for the “grace” given to the Corinthian church (1:4), and for their spiritual gifting which “confirmed” that they had believed the gospel (1:5-6).

Paul reminded them that Christ would keep them strong until the end because their past lifestyles tugged strongly at them through the influence of the Corinthian society and culture (1:8; cf. 12:2).

Central to Paul’s thinking in all his letters was the concept of being “in Christ” (1:2, 4).

He used this exact phrase seventy-three times and frequently employed related phrases and concepts.

This complex idea incorporates both a legal and an experiential aspect.

On the one hand, “in Christ” refers to the fact that believers are covered by Christ’s imputed righteousness (Rom. 5:15-19; Gal. 2:17).

Because Christ has died for them and imputed His righteousness to them, believers stand before God’s judgment throne with Christ’s own status.

They are accounted righteous because Christ stands in their place as their representative.

On the other hand, “in Christ” is also much like John’s term “abide” (John 15:1-7, NASB), meaning that Christ lives within believers, and they live in Him (Rom. 6:23; Gal. 3:28).

It refers to an intimate union that affects believers on the level of their very being.

(1:4) Having concluded his salutation, the apostle now turns to thanksgiving for the Corinthians and for the wonderful work of God in their lives (vv. 4–9).

It was a noble trait in Paul’s life that always sought to find something thankworthy in the lives of his fellow believers.

If their practical lives were not very commendable, then he would at least thank his God for what He had done for them.

This is exactly the case here.

The Corinthians were not what we would call spiritual Christians. But Paul can at least give thanks for the grace of God which was given to them by Christ Jesus.

(1:5) The particular way in which God’s grace was manifested to the Corinthians was in their being richly endowed with gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Paul specifies gifts of utterance and all knowledge, presumably meaning that the Corinthians had been given the gifts of tongues, interpretation of tongues, and knowledge to an extraordinary degree.

Utterance has to do with outward expression and knowledge with inward comprehension.

(1:6) The fact that they had these gifts was a confirmation of God’s work in their lives, and that is what Paul means when he says, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you.

They heard the testimony of Christ, they received it by faith, and God testified that they were truly saved by giving them these miraculous powers.

(1:7) As far as the possession of gifts was concerned, the Corinthian church was not inferior to any other. But the mere possession of these gifts was not in itself a mark of true spirituality.

Paul was really thanking the Lord for something for which the Corinthians themselves were not directly responsible.

Gifts are given by the ascended Lord without regard to a person’s own merit.

If a person has some gift, he should not be proud of it but use it humbly for the Lord.

The fruit of the Spirit is another matter entirely.

This involves the believer’s own surrender to the control of the Holy Spirit.

The apostle could not commend the Corinthians for evidence of the fruit of the Spirit in their lives, but only for what the Lord had sovereignly bestowed on them—something over which they had no control.

Later in the Epistle the apostle will have to reprove the saints for their abuse of these gifts, but here he is content to express thanks that they had received these gifts in such unusual measure.

The Corinthian church members had all the spiritual gifts they needed to live the Christian life, to witness for Jesus, and to stand against the paganism and immorality of Corinth.

But instead of using what God had given them, they were arguing over which gifts were most important.

Paul addresses this issue in depth in 1 Corinthians 12 through 14.

(1:7-9) Before tackling the problems, Paul described his hope for the Corinthians.

He guaranteed these believers that God would keep them strong to the end and consider them free from all blame when Christ returns (also see Ephesians 1:7-10).

This guarantee was not because of their great abilities, spiritual gifts, or shining performances but because of what Jesus Christ accomplished for them through his death and resurrection.

All who believe in the Lord Jesus are in partnership with Him and will be considered blameless when He returns (also see 1 Thessalonians 3:13; Hebrews 9:28).

Today’s struggles, difficulties, and failures don’t tell the whole story. Keep the big picture in mind.

If you have faith in Jesus, even if it is weak, you are and will be saved.

(1:10-11) Like a frustrated coach watching his team bicker on the court, Paul called for a time-out.

He saw the danger of divisions and arguments.

The Corinthian believers’ lack of unity was obvious.

They may have been playing in the same “uniform,” but they were doing as much as the opposition to bring about their own defeat.

The problems weren’t so much differences of opinion as divided allegiances.

They were arguing over which position on the team was most important in a way that made them ineffective as a unit.

Harmony is beautiful—in families, in friendships, at work, at church.

Harmony, however, does not require everyone to hold the same opinions about everything.

There is a difference between having opposing viewpoints and being divisive.

A group of people will not agree on every issue, but they can work together harmoniously if they agree on what truly matters—Jesus Christ as Lord of all.

Focus on Jesus and the purpose He has for you.

Speak and act in a way that will reduce arguments and increase harmony.

Petty differences should never divide Christians.

(1:10) Paul founded the church in Corinth on his second missionary journey.

Eighteen months after he left, arguments and divisions arose, and some church members slipped back into an immoral lifestyle.

Paul wrote this letter to address the problems and to clear up confusion about right and wrong so that the believers would remove the immorality from among them.

The Corinthian people had a reputation for jumping from fad to fad; Paul wanted to keep Christianity from degenerating into just another fad.

(1:10) By saying “brothers and sisters,” Paul was emphasizing that all Christians are part of God’s family.

Believers share a unity that runs even deeper than that of blood brothers and sisters.

(1:12-13) In the large and diverse Corinthian church, the believers favored different preachers.

Because as yet they had no written New Testament, they depended heavily on preaching and teaching for spiritual insight into the meaning of the Old Testament.

Some preferred Paul, who had founded their church; some who had heard Peter in Jerusalem followed him; others listened only to Apollos, an eloquent and popular preacher who had had a dynamic ministry in Corinth (Acts 18:24; 19:1).

Although these three preachers were united in their message, their personalities attracted different people.

At this time the church was in danger of dividing.

By mentioning Jesus Christ ten times in the first ten verses, Paul makes it clear that all preachers and teachers should emphasize God’s message, which is much more important than any human messenger.

(1:12-13) Paul asks whether the Corinthians’ quarrels had “divided” Christ.

This is a graphic picture of what happens when the church (the body of Christ) divides into factions.

With the many churches and styles of worship available today, we could get caught up in the same game of “My preacher is better than yours!”

To do so would be like trying to divide Christ yet again. But Christ cannot be divided, and His true followers should not allow anything to divide them.

Don’t let your appreciation for any teacher, preacher, or author lead you into false pride or misplaced devotion.

Maintain your allegiance to Christ and to the unity He desires.

(1:17) When Paul said that Christ didn’t send him to baptize, he wasn’t minimizing the importance of baptism.

Baptism was commanded by Jesus Himself (Matthew 28:19) and practiced by the early church (Acts 2:41).

Paul was emphasizing that no one person should do everything. Paul’s gift and calling was preaching, and that’s what he did.

Christian ministry should be a team effort; no preacher or teacher is a complete link between God and people, and no individual can do all that the apostles did collectively.

We shouldn’t compare ourselves with others, and we should be content with the contribution God has given us to make and carry it out wholeheartedly. (For more on different gifts, see 1 Corinthians 12–13.)

(1:17) Some speakers use impressive words, but they are weak on content.

Paul stressed solid content and practical help for his listeners.

He wanted them to be impressed with his message, not his style (see 2:1-5).

You don’t need to be a great speaker with a large vocabulary to share the Good News effectively.

The story, not the storyteller, has the persuasive power.

Paul was not against those who carefully prepare what they say (see 2:6) but against those who try to impress others with their own knowledge or speaking ability.

(1:19) Paul summarizes Isaiah 29:14 to emphasize a point Jesus often made:

God’s way of thinking differs from the world’s way (normal human wisdom).

God also offers eternal life, which the world can never give.

Someone can spend a lifetime accumulating human wisdom and yet never learn how to have a personal relationship with God.

We must come to the crucified and risen Christ to receive eternal life and the joy of a personal relationship with our Savior.

(1:22-24) Many Jews considered the Good News of Jesus Christ to be foolish because they thought the Messiah would be a conquering king accompanied by signs and miracles.

Jesus had not restored David’s throne as they had expected.

Besides, He was executed as a criminal, and how could a criminal be a savior?

Greeks, too, considered the Good News foolish:

They did not believe in a bodily resurrection, they did not see in Jesus the powerful characteristics of their mythological gods, and they thought no reputable person would be crucified.

To them, death was defeat, not victory.

The Good News of Jesus Christ still sounds foolish to many.

Our society worships power, influence, and wealth.

Jesus came as a humble, poor servant, and He offers entrance into His Kingdom to those who humbly come to Him in faith, not to those who are wise, mighty, powerful, influential, or who try to earn salvation through good deeds.

The Christian faith looks foolish to the world, but knowing Christ personally is the greatest wisdom anyone can have.

(1:25) The message of Christ’s death for sins sounds foolish to those who don’t believe it.

Death seems to be the end of the road, the ultimate weakness.

But Jesus did not stay dead.

His resurrection demonstrated His power over even death.

And He will save us from eternal death and give us everlasting life if we trust Him as Savior and Lord.

This sounds so simple that many people won’t accept it.

They try other ways to obtain eternal life, but all their attempts are futile.

The people who may seem foolish for simply accepting Jesus’ offer are actually the wisest of all because they alone will live eternally with God.

(1:27) Does Christianity oppose rational thinking?

Christians clearly do believe in using their minds to weigh the evidence and make wise choices (see 14:15-16).

Here Paul declares that no amount of human knowledge can replace or bypass Christ’s work on the cross.

If it could, Christ would be accessible only to the intellectually gifted and well educated, and not to ordinary people or to children.

(1:28-31) Paul continues to emphasize that the way to receive salvation is so simple that any person who wants to can understand it.

Skill and wisdom do not get a person into God’s Kingdom—simple faith does.

So no one can boast that personal achievements helped him or her secure eternal life.

Salvation comes totally from God through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

We can do NOTHING to earn our salvation; we need only to accept what Jesus has already done for us.

(1:30) God is our Source and the reason for our personal relationships with Christ Jesus.

Our union and identification with Christ result in our having God’s wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3), being in right standing with God (2 Corinthians 5:21), being pure (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7), and having the penalty for our sins paid by Jesus (Mark 10:45).

Verse 30 emphasizes even further that all we are and have comes from Him—not from philosophy, and that there is therefore no room for human glory.

First of all, Christ became for us wisdom.

He is the wisdom of God (v. 24), the One whom God’s wisdom chose as the way of salvation.

When we have Him we have a positional wisdom that guarantees our full salvation.

Secondly, He is our righteousness.

Through faith in Him we are reckoned righteous by a holy God.

Thirdly, He is our sanctification.

In ourselves we have nothing in the way of personal holiness, but in Him we are positionally sanctified, and by His power we are transformed from one degree of sanctification to another.

Finally, He is our redemption, and this doubtless speaks of redemption in its final aspect when the Lord will come and take us home to be with Himself, and when we shall be redeemed—spirit, soul, and body.

Stewart Traill (1936–2018) delineated the truth sharply:

Wisdom out[side] of Christ is damning folly—righteousness out[side] of Christ is guilt and condemnation—sanctification out[side] of Christ is filth and sin—redemption out[side] of Christ is bondage and slavery.

A. T. Pierson (1837-1911) relates verse 30 to the life and ministry of our Lord:

His deeds and His words and His practices, these show Him as the wisdom of God.

Then come His death, burial, and resurrection: these have to do with our righteousness.

Then His forty days’ walk among men, His ascension up on high, the gift of the Spirit, and His session at the right hand of God, have to do with our sanctification.

Then His coming again, which has to do with our redemption.

(1:31) God has so arranged it that all these blessings should come to us in the LORD.

Paul’s argument therefore is, “Why glory in men?

They cannot do any one of these things for you.”

From Life Lessons, by Max Lucado

One of my Boy Scout assignments was to build a kite.

One of my blessings as a Boy Scout was a kite-building dad.

He built a lot of things: scooters on skates, go-carts.

Why, he even built our house.

A kite to him was stick figures to Van Gogh.

Could handle them in his sleep. With wood glue, poles, and newspaper, we fashioned a sky-dancing masterpiece: red, white, and blue, and shaped like a box.

We launched our creation on the back of a March wind.

But after some minutes, my kite caught a downdraft and plunged.

I tightened the string, raced in reverse, and did all I could to maintain elevation.

But it was too late. She Hindenburged earthward.

Envision a redheaded, heartsick twelve-year-old standing over his collapsed kite.

That was me.

Envision a square-bodied man with ruddy skin and coverall, placing his hand on the boy’s shoulder.

That was my kite-making dad.

He surveyed the heap of sticks and paper and assured,

“It’s okay. We can fix this.”

I believed him. Why not? He spoke with authority.

So does Christ. To all whose lives feel like a crashed kite, He says, “We can fix this.

Let Me teach you. Let Me teach you how to handle your money, long Mondays, and cranky in-laws.

Let Me teach you why people fight, death comes, and forgiveness counts.

But most of all, let Me teach you why on earth you are on this earth.”

Don’t we need to learn?

We know so much, and yet we know so little.

The age of information is the age of confusion: much know-how, hardly any know-why.

We need answers. Jesus offers them. But can we trust Him?

Only one way to know.

(From 3:16 by Max Lucado)

Human wisdom tells us to get as much as we can, believe only what we can see, enjoy pleasure, and avoid pain.

God’s wisdom tells us to give all we can, believe what we can’t see, enjoy service, and expect persecution.

Faith and Trust makes all the difference!


So here’s the deal, Christ did for each of us what we could not do for ourselves.

The Bible tells us that, “…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; and behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor 5:17).

If we truly have had this born-again encounter with Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, who now indwells each of our lives, then our lives will never be the same again.

As Paul declared, in his own faith, this is the reckoning that we each must make every single day of our lives..

Galatians 2:20

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by FAITH in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

And also in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Paul tells us…

“…do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

God tells us in His Word that His ultimate mission and design, for all mankind, is that after we are born-again, by the will of the Father and by the power of the Holy Spirit, (and then having entered the school of the Holy Spirit), that we each be conformed into the image of His Son – Jesus Christ!

Romans 8:28-30
New King James Version

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

Knowing Jesus intellectually as an historic figure it’s not salvation and it’s not what being born-again is about!

I should know because that’s where I started, as a nominal Christian (in name only), who knew Jesus only as an historic figure, but did not have a relationship with Him.

Knowing about Christ is not what salvation is.. salvation happens as we come into relationship with Him and submit to Him as both our Lord and Savior.

Listen to what Jesus says on the subject…

Matthew 7:21-23
New King James Version

I Never Knew You
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’

23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

The Bible tells us that, “…for by grace (unmerited favor) we are saved through FAITH, and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Eph 2:8-9).

So it’s God’s grace mixed with our faith that saves us; and salvation cannot happen without both together.

And we learn in Hebrews 11 about how faith works, and that “Faith is ACTION, based UPON our belief in God and the truth of His Word, which faith is sustained by the confidence that when God promises something God will keep His promise.”

The word for faith, in Greek is Pistis, and by definition it goes well beyond intellectual assent, and it requires our taking action in obedience to God’s Word.

The action that we take in salvation is obeying the gospel message, receiving Christ as both our Savior and Lord, and then recognizing that having done that, that our lives are no longer our own!

The faith/obedience connection, and our dying to self and taking up our cross daily must then continue thereafter, every day of our lives, until we graduate to Glory.

Matthew 16:24-25
New King James Version

Take Up the Cross and Follow Him
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

In John 14:15, 23 Jesus says…

15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.

23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and (then) We will come to him and make Our home with him.

And finally in 1 John 2:6 we are told…

“He who says he abides in Him (Christ) ought himself also to walk just as He (Jesus) walked.

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

Sunday, June 19
The Berean
Daily Verse and Comment on…

1 Corinthians 1:30
New King James Version

“But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption”

Protestants hang on this verse because on its face it seems to say that Christ did all the work for us—that we are made righteous, sanctified, and redeemed by accepting His sacrifice for us, and we need do no more.

Upon closer study, though, this verse says that Jesus is our example in these matters; He embodies these virtues.

Just as He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), He is wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.

If we walk as He walked, we will be wise, righteous, holy, and saved!

As the whole context shows, God will amaze and shame the world by taking the foolish, weak, and base, and creating them into children like His Son (cf. Luke 10:21).

Even as nothing just appears as a finished product, so His children will go through a process of development, and this process follows the same one that Jesus Christ experienced in His life (John 8:12; I Corinthians 11:1; I John 2:6; etc.).

This is where the Protestant gospel fails. It proclaims “by grace you have been saved through faith” alone (a word not found in Ephesians 2:8, yet added by Martin Luther), and discounts works entirely as a vehicle for building character because, in their view, we are already righteous and holy through Christ.

True, we are not saved by works (verse 9), but Paul emphatically asserts that God is creating us in Christ for good works (verse 10).

James adds that works exhibit and stimulate faith (James 2:18, 22, 24, 26).

Works, then, are a tool to build as well as a product of godly character.

The gospel, then, is more than an announcement of salvation to mankind.

It is a roadmap that teaches us what we must do to be saved—not just justified by Christ’s sacrifice, but also born into the Kingdom of God!

Between justification and glorification is sanctification, the process of becoming holy and righteous as He is, and the gospel explains how that is accomplished.

Though that process does not save us, we will not be saved without it!
— Richard T. Ritenbaugh

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